MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police have cited a mother for leaving her child, 1, in a car unattended outside a Southeast Memphis Costco as temperatures reached 88 degrees.
Police said someone called them when they saw the baby locked in the car. The bystander got the girl out through a slightly cracked window and she she was sweating and looked flushed.
Police eventually found the mother, who told them she only went in the store to use the bathroom.
“This is something that happens all too often and it’s extremely dangerous for everyone but especially children,” said Dr. Michael Holder, medical director at Baptist Women’s and Children’s Pediatric Emergency Room.
In fact, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, an average of 38 children a year die from heatstroke in a car. So far, five have already died in 2021.
Tennessee ranks ninth-worst of all states.
Holder explained why children are more susceptible to heatstroke.
“Children’s metabolisms are higher so they generate more heat than adults,” he said. “They tend to run hotter and it’s easier for them to get overheated.”
Campaigns often remind parents to check backseats before going shopping and give tips, like always leaving a diaper bag or handbag next to the child.
An experiment by Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital showed how quickly temperatures can get dangerous, increasing by 40 degrees in 30 minutes. It compared a car to an oven.
Dr. Holder emphasized that cracking the windows does not help.
“The only real solution if you can’t take your child with you out of the hot car you don’t need to go where you’re going,” he said.
Police said they cited the mother, Svetlana Tokareva, for a misdemeanor of leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle. WREG tried to reach Tokareva Sunday but did not hear back.